The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all fronts, including on cooperation in the development sector. This pandemic has forced us to adapt to the situation, from how we lead our social lives, how programs are implemented, to how research and innovation are conducted. The Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI) strives to continue its support for the creation of a knowledge and innovation ecosystem to rise up to the challenges in the health sector, stability and economic recovery due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Law 11 of 2019 concerning the National System of Science and Technology (Sisnas Iptek) and the emergence of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) structure integrated with the Ministry of Research and Technology (MoRT), gives us new hope. There is not only a regulatory basis but an institution to support the governance of research and innovation today.
Over the recent years, researchers, academics and KSI along with its partners, have been working to improve research and innovation governance. However, when Indonesia recorded its first cases of COVID-19, research and innovation ecosystem was put under a spotlight. The preparedness of Indonesian research and innovation in addressing the pandemic revealed the urgency and importance of reforming its governance.
To complement ongoing initiatives, KSI provided support to the Ministry of Research and Technology/ BRIN in formulating the ministry’s Strategic Plan and National Research Priorities (PRN) to reflect the principles of effective governance. KSI supports the mainstreaming of an interdisciplinary approach through the formulation of main performance indicators across various Ministry/BRIN units.
With its strategic partner, the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG), KSI prepared a position paper on Draft Government Regulation concerning the Formulation of Science and Technology Activities (RPP Penyelenggaraan Iptek) to be further proposed as input to the relevant teams at the Ministry/BRIN.
Since March 2020, KSI and the Centre for Innovation Policy and Governance (CIPG) took part in supporting the Social Sciences and Humanities Deputyship (IPSK) of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) in writing its position paper on the Technological Application Readiness (TKT) for social innovations through the use of research in the field of humanities. In preparing this position paper, KSI facilitated a series of discussions with partner policy research organizations, universities, ministry/institution research and development departments, and other key stakeholders, including the National Research Reviewers, BPPT, and the Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN.
From the research funding aspect, to manage the research portfolio better and more effectively, including determining the complementarity of future endowment funds, KSI along with Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN Data and Information Center have expanded their analysis using a more comprehensive dataset. This analysis will also be included in the MoRT/BRIN strategic planning, particularly the relevant key performance indicators to measure the impact of research funding and mainstreaming of social and policy research into sectoral targets.
Furthermore, KSI discussed the draft of operationalization of research endowment funds together with MoRT/BRIN to confirm and validate the details of the endowment fund management, from investment to disbursement and monitoring and evaluation of outputs. This discussion informed supporting document for the Presidential Regulation concerning Research Endowment Fund.
Discussion and advocacy organized by KSI regarding the blueprint of knowledge and innovation ecosystem received an endorsement from Bappenas, Ministry of Research and Technology/BRIN, and Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (KemenPAN-RB). KSI also expanded the stakeholders to include the Ministry of Industries and business associations such as Indonesian Business Association (APINDO) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN). KSI will organize the preparation of this blueprint along with relevant partners.
On different occasions, CIPG Senior Advisor Yanuar Nugroho said that the knowledge and innovation ecosystem should be built with the view that knowledge should be integrated consciously, purposely, and deliberately in public life and affirmed through public policy. Commercialization and downstream process of research outcomes to boost national competitiveness can only be realized if the innovation ecosystem functions optimally. Incentives are put in place to strengthen basic research; applied research is encouraged until inventions emerge; facilities are provided to bridge the ‘valley of death’ from invention to innovation. Without this ecosystem, there will be no orchestration to advance the nation through research and innovation. Without orchestration and direction, research and innovation cannot address the needs – especially in the mitigation of COVID-19 in Indonesia.
Guarding Inclusive Policy
One of KSI’s strategic partners, Australia-Indonesia Disability Research and Advocacy Network (AIDRAN) analyzed studies from several research institutions and universities in Indonesia which found that persons with disabilities are among the most vulnerable groups at high risk of being exposed to coronavirus. Persons with disabilities are vulnerable because they have different special needs. However, their access to public services is still limited, including health services, education and infrastructure. In addition, access to COVID-19 information to meet the different needs of people with disabilities is lacking.
AIDRAN initiated a Rapid Assessment on Persons with Disabilities and COVID-19 in Indonesia to serve as recommendations for stakeholders in fulfilling the rights of persons with disabilities. AIDRAN led a team to perform data cleaning, data analysis, and report writing from data from more than 1,600 respondents. The final results of this rapid assessment, ‘Those Who Move and Those Affected by the Inclusive COVID-19 Response DPO Network’, were presented in two webinars organized by Bappenas and two DFAT projects; on 9 June 2020: ‘The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Persons with Disabilities and Preparing for a New Inclusive Normal’, and on 11 June 2020, ‘Responding to the Needs of Persons with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the New Normal’. This Rapid Assessment was submitted to Bappenas for consideration and planning for inclusive social assistance and policies.
In addition, AIDRAN also produced several knowledge products for people with disabilities facing the COVID-19 pandemic situation. These include Study Guides for People with Sight and Physical Disabilities, Adequate Accommodation Guide for Persons with Disabilities and access to information on social assistance programs from the Indonesian government that can be accessed by persons with disabilities.
In supporting the economic recovery policy, BaKTI through the support of KSI, held online discussions involving the South Sulawesi Regional Research and Development Agency (Bappelitbangda), KPPOD, Seknas FITRA and SMERU. This discussion concluded that the provincial government is committed to continuing its study of two commodities: silk and taro. These two commodities are considered important to revive the local economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. The study that will be carried out is expected to become an example of sound evidence-based value chain studies to be replicated and applied in other areas.
PRIs were also actively seen in providing input to strengthen the design study prepared from the previous discussion in Makassar. In the follow-up meeting, Bappelitbangda presented a final recommendation, namely to focus on studies on silk commodities. The revitalization of the silk commodity is considered strategic and can help rebuild the economy of South Sulawesi after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seeing the developing situation, handling COVID-19 requires an integration of several sectors. KSI continues to strive to be a catalyst in the knowledge sector that acts as an initiator (providing an opportunity for new ideas), connector (connecting related actors), aligner (providing support and improvement of knowledge collaboration), accelerator (supporting process acceleration), and amplifier (disseminating knowledge to the medium) between knowledge producers, knowledge intermediaries and knowledge users. This catalytic role continues to be implemented to support the formation of the knowledge and innovation ecosystem.
By realizing the knowledge and innovation ecosystem, interdisciplinary integration can occur. In the future, this will also produce domestic innovations that can be commercialized. And simultaneously, oversee efforts to handle the COVID-19 pandemic inclusively so that the rights of all people can be fulfilled.